When God promised to bruise the serpent’s head through the woman’s seed (Gen. 3:15), the Creator committed Himself to restoring creation through His people. Yet to preserve one man who was blameless compared to others was not enough. Noah could not undo the fall (9:21); therefore, while the covenant with him preserves a stable environment in which the church can fight against Satan (8:22; 9:8–17), additional steps are needed for righteousness to prevail.
In today’s passage, the Lord takes the first of these steps with Abram. God sovereignly and graciously reaches into one of the many disobedient families then living (see 11:1–9) and calls one man to be His servant. True, Abram’s faith is required, but the passage is structured in such a way that his response is certain. Commentators note how the rhyming of the Hebrew phrases and the repetition of terms like “from” are literary indicators of the effectual nature of the Lord’s call to Abram. The Spirit moves the patriarch to obey willingly (John 6:44).
This call actually came while Abram was still living in Ur (Acts 7:1–4), even though Genesis 11:31–32 seems to infer it occurred in Haran. But Moses mentions the journey out of Ur before the Lord’s call in order to prepare us for Abram’s faithful response to God.
Abram is ordered to leave all of his wealth and his extended family behind (12:1). However, this loss only prepares him for future blessing. The faithless people tried to bring the benefit of a great name upon themselves at Babel (11:4) and were thwarted, but the faithful, because of the Lord’s good will, shall see their name be made great by God. Moreover, Abram will father a great nation, a people that will include all those with faith, regardless of ethnicity (12:2; Gal. 3:29).
Because we who are in Christ by faith also receive the Abrahamic blessing, we can be confident the promises in these verses are also ours, especially those of Genesis 12:3. John Calvin comments: “God so embraces us with his favor, that he will bless our friends, and take vengeance on our enemies.” Though our struggle against the seed of the serpent may leave us temporarily bruised and bloodied, we can be certain that “God engages on our side in the war.”
Calvin wisely observes that Genesis 12:3 ought also “to excite us to assist the faithful, that if we discharge any duty towards them, God will repay it; nor ought it less to alarm us, that he denounces war against us, if we hurt any one belonging to him.” If we bless other Christians, God will bless us, but if we curse other believers, He will not let us go undisciplined. Take some time to consider how you can be a blessing to your church leaders. Then, go and serve them.